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TGI: Courting the student market

The latest TGI data from Kantar Media gives an insight into students' spending habits and media consumption, revealing that preconceived notions of impoverished scholars might be wide of the mark.

Students: particularly responsive to advertising and sponsorship

Students: particularly responsive to advertising and sponsorship

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With universities and colleges about to open their doors for a new academic year and higher education institutions more oversubscribed than ever, marketers are gearing up to court this large and (surprisingly) lucrative student market.

Latest data from TGI reveals that there are 1.6 million 18 to 24-year-olds currently in full-time education in Britain. Many of them are from relatively privileged backgrounds – as a group they are almost a third more likely than the average adult to be in the ABC1 social grades. Despite a stereotypical view of students eating budget baked beans and drinking cheap cider, they actually have a collective personal wealth in excess of £5bn. 

This is also a group with a penchant for the finer things in life. They are two and a half times more likely than the average adult to wear designer clothes and 60% more likely to admit to having expensive tastes.

Students also tend to be quite impulsive: they are twice as likely to be unable to resist expensive perfumes or aftershaves and a third more likely to treat themselves to things they don’t need. The group love a bargain, with over three-quarters of them always on the look out for special offers, and almost half always using money-off vouchers and coupons. 

Fulfilling the archetypal student stereotype, these young scholars enjoy getting out and about. Almost a quarter of them are regular nightclub visitors, and they are also over twice as likely as the average adult to pop to the pub for an evening tipple (or two or three) more than once a week.

Indeed, hedonism and ambition are the overarching personality traits of this busy group.  They are over two and a half times more likely to believe the point of drinking is to get drunk and to like to stand out in a crowd. They are twice as likely to agree that it is important their family thinks they are doing well and that they like to pursue a life of challenge, novelty and change.

Things that relate to domesticity or putting down roots are generally of little interest. They are over twice as likely to affirm that home décor is of no particular interest to them and three quarters more likely to believe that friends are more important to them than family.

The active, social student lifestyle is reflected in which media are the most efficient for reaching students. Latest TGI data shows that they are particularly likely to be amongst the heaviest fifth of consumers of cinema (over three time more likely than the average adult), internet (over twice as likely) and outdoor media (a quarter more likely).

As well as being popular in its own right, cinema also particularly engages them with its advertising. Students are over three times as likely to agree that cinema is the medium on which they pay most attention to the adverts. Relative to the average adult, when at the cinema they are particularly likely to be keen on teenage comedy, art house and documentary films. 

Emerging forms of media are also close to the hearts of students. They are particularly likely to try and keep up with developments in technology and to cherish mobile communication.

Consequentially, it is perhaps not wholly unexpected that they are 60% more likely than the average adult who received ads to their mobile phone to respond to these ads. In terms of their internet habits, the group spend 40% more time online than the average adult and, encouragingly the most likely online activity for the group is academic study.

However, they are also considerably more likely than the average adult to regularly download music and TV content, watch TV online and blog.

Indeed, as a rule, they tend to be particularly responsive to advertising and sponsorship. Over a third admit that advertising helps them choose what to buy – over twice as likely as the average adult. They are also over twice as likely to buy products from companies who sponsor sports or TV programmes.

Students' media consumption habits
Heaviest 20% of consumers % more/less likely than average adult
Cinema 226%
Internet 124%
Outdoor 24%
Magazines 40%
TV -35%
Radio -35%
Newspapers -65%

Source: GB TGI 2010 Q2 – Base: All adults (aged 15+)

Russell Budden, associate director, Kantar Media

TGI is a continuous survey of consumer usage habits, lifestyles, media exposure and attitudes of GB adults aged 15+

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